Elevator Chat: Joan Lyon, New Councilor on the Maryland State Arts Council
Joan Lyon is an active supporter of the arts; she is a member of the Garrett County Arts Council and is currently serving her second term as President of its Board of Directors. Lyon also volunteers as a ceramics assistant/mentor in the Art Department at Garrett College.
MSAC: What in your life pointed you toward participating and giving of your time to the arts?
Joan Lyon: My parents and participation in church youth group service activities, taught me the value and importance of sharing our time and talents to help others. My academic background and profession were in the medical sciences. The arts were a welcome contrast – giving me a creative outlet for self-expression and relaxation. Knowing how the arts can improve our quality of life and wanting to ensure that benefit for others in my community, is what motivates me to volunteer my time to promote the arts.
MSAC: As a child, were you interested in the arts?
Joan Lyon: Yes, I was fortunate, my parents were educators and artists in their own right; the arts were constant companions in our home and life. Beyond that, some of my earliest and most memorable art-related experiences were in my 1st grade class in Charleston, WV. Once a week, our teacher would tune into the local classical radio station for a special student-oriented musical presentation. The format was a brief discussion about the history of a piece of music and its composer, followed by the performance. My favorite times were the sessions when we listened to the performance and drew or painted what the music inspired.
MSAC: What has it meant to you, to see the arts become a bigger part of Maryland's livelihood?
Joan Lyon: The arts express the history, culture, spirit, experiences and aspirations of communities, towns, regions and their people. The arts are key components of the successful transformation and revitalization of communities. As a “recurring” resident of Silver Spring over nearly three decades (1980 to 2005), I witnessed first-hand its gradual decline in the ‘80s and 90’s, as well as its remarkable recovery in the new millennium; the latter in large part due to the tireless dedication, commitment and investment of numerous arts organizations, artistic entrepreneurs, and arts-minded residents.
MSAC: Given your background, what are your goals for MSAC?
Joan Lyon: My first goal is to listen and learn, then identify areas where my skills and experiences can best sustain and advance the arts and arts programming for Maryland’s citizens. As a veteran from Garrett County, where I serve on the Garrett County Arts Council, I hope to address some of the arts-related challenges faced by rural counties and underserved communities.